Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Time to Celebrate

I wept the night Obama was elected, and I wept on the day of his inauguration - I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders and that of my nation.

It's time to celebrate.

His executive orders and his first piece of signed legislation (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act) signal a new direction for the Republic, though I might add: not so much a new way, as the restoration of a purpose so eloquently outlined for us by our Founding Mothers and Fathers.

And now the central piece of Obama's Presidency, the Stimulus Plan - will it work?

Hard to say - once the wheels of Recession/Depression begin to roll, like a snowball heading down hill, it's tough to put the breaks on.

If John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is right, and there are many who believe that it's time for Kenyesian steps to be taken - that is, if spending is the key to a vital economy, and banks aren't lending and folks aren't spending, then it's up to Uncle Sam to spend.

My greatest concern is that this spending be directed to job-creation and health care. The American people are shackled by rising health care costs, and too many are without insurance, contributing to a decline in our overall health and huge stress on our emergency rooms, just when so many hospitals are closing their ER doors and increasingly unable to absorb losses.

What limited travel I've had, it seems to me that our European and Canadian friends are doing a whole lot better on this one then we are. Both friends and family have experienced the European health care system, and the grades are consistently high, but the point worth noting: everyone is cared for, and I believe that when Uncle Sam begins to pay our medical bills, Uncle Sam will suddenly take a new interest in the food and water supply, clean air, product and workplace safety and the lifestyle of the American people.

For much of our history, there's been a marvelous oscillation between rugged individualism (everyone for themselves) and a social mandate to care for one another. It strikes me that in our youth (both personally and as a nation), we're likely to favor the "rugged" model, appealing, as it does, to our personal strengths and uniqueness. But as we grow older, we are likely to pay more attention to our neighbors, and if religion has any value whatsoever, faith opens our eyes to see "the least of these" and opens our hands to help.

Individual charity is a must, but only a concerted partnership between Uncle Sam and the engines of business can correct the social structures creating poverty. Charity alone may temporarily alleviate some suffering and will make the giver feel good, but we need social restructuring so that folks will have access to good jobs, job safety, education, health care and housing.

We can do it!

Yes, it's time to celebrate.

There are no miracles on the horizon. It took a considerable time for us to get to this point, and it will take time to make the needed corrections, not only in the material elements of taxation and government spending, but in our heart - as we move toward a greater social maturity - moving away from the "rugged" model to understanding and affirming that the greatest test of a society is the care we give to one another.

I write as Christian, and I write as one who heeds (or tries to) the prophetic message of Isaiah and Jeremiah (and the others) and how that message takes shape in the words and work of Jesus my Lord.

Yes, it's time to celebrate!

By God's grace, we can!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Republicans Commit Social Suicide

I am stunned ... amazed ... flabbergasted ... as the Repubs show their true colors - a petulant ideology willing to let millions of Americans fall into the pit of a depression while still touting their foolish mantra of tax cuts.

TAX CUTS DON'T WORK! They do not create jobs, they depress the economy, deplete government coffers, encourage Wall Street to go for short-term profits and give an artificial sense of well-being.

Do any of the Repubs get that?

Beginning with Reagan, and his silly economic policies - low taxes and borrowing, we lived high-on-the-hog for a long time, but roosters come home to roost, and they're crowing now with a vengeance.

Are the Repubs capable of thought?

Not likely.

They are in the grip of ideology - a mindset that filters the world for them - it's not about people; it's never been about people, but about their skewed principles which are essentially fascist - using the government to feather the nests of the powerful.

The growing power of Wall Street has to be curtailed (we need another Teddy Roosevelt's move against  the robber-barrons), and we all need to recover a sense of mutual accountability through taxation.

Our infrastructure is falling apart, and if that isn't a matter of national security, I don't know what is.

As the former Repub governor of Michigan, John Engler) did so well - he lowered taxes and allowed the roads to go to hell, and just about everything else, leaving Jennifer Granholm with a mess essentially unsolvable.

The low-tax mantra is suicide for a great nation well on its way to third-rate status - a debtor nation living off the greed and good will of China, Japan and the Saudis.

The pathetic behavior of America's board rooms, the excess of greed, the "let them eat cake" mentality of the self-appointed "royalty" reveals the moral abyss of American capitalism.

Grounded in the prophetic voice of the Old Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus, the pretensions of Rome and its Jerusalem allies (the temple establishment) are painfully obvious. We have been heading down a dark road for a long time, cheered on by the likes Alan Greenspan (who has rightly admitted the flawed nature of his ideology).

The super-wealthy and their political lapdogs are fascists - let's not pull any punches on this. Fascism is the heart and soul of super-wealth.

Without a clear and convincing moral sense, it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a person of wealth to enter the kingdom of heaven (God's realm on earth - "thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Is there hope?

Who knows?

God says to Israel, "everyone is brought low—
      do not forgive them!" ~ Isaiah 2:9

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Amazing Republicans

The amazing Republicans - they're still touting their failed philosophy of tax cuts as the only way to restore the economy.

Are they brain dead?

Have not those policies proved bankrupt, literally? As our nation  teeters on the brink of a deep economic disaster, thanks to Bush and Gang, with John Boehner now carrying this guttering torch?

They haven't a clue.

They lost, and they lost big! The American people have spoken, and after the election, with Obama's growing approval rating and Bush's further decline, more and more Americans realize just how flawed the Republican philosophy grew under the guidance of an Alan Greenspan, for example. In all regards, economically, diplomatically, militarily, the Repubs have failed.

But rather than rising to some higher level of compromise and cross-aisle conversation, they seem intractable. Abandoned by the likes of Colin Powell and others, can they not see how isolated, how irrelveant, they've become.

It's a new age for us ... and we finally have a real President for the real America, and America of compassion and wisdom, where all religions and races are welcomed, where the power of diplomacy is understood and practiced, and we work together to achieve the American Dream, even as we celebrate the dreams of other nations, as well.

We have been thinking small for a long time, and small thinkers only grow smaller.

Expansive thoughts, intelligence and reflection, a grasp of history and a compelling vision of justice for all - we have a President who embodies the best of this nation's history.

I return to Joe Biden's comment: that paying taxes is patriotic!  Taxation compels business to reinvest rather than pull profits and limits the irresponsible spending patterns promoted by a crass consumer capitalism.

Taxation is a means of redistributing the wealth, and only government has the means to do this justly! And I can't think of anything more patriotic than helping every citizen of the land have a fair and decent chance.

For too long, we've headed the cry of the super-wealthy, and for what, so they can spend millions dollars to refurbish their offices?

Come on Repubs ... get your act together. I think it's time for you to turn off Limbaugh and listen to your own story told well in the work and life of Senator Dirksen who, at a critical moment of debate, joined hands with the Dems to help Lydon Johnson pass his massive civil rights legislation.

We have a chance now to rejoin the family of nations, even as we restore our economy, move ahead on health care, promote stem cell research, expand infrastructure construction and safeguard the right of woman to choose.

We have a chance. It would be nice if the Repubs could join the effort.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

United: A Poem about President Obama

From a good friend of mine and a fine poet: Nicolas Crowley.

Brothers and sisters come together
Our hands held high in great pride
A change has come our way
We celebrate around the globe
Barack Obama has broken the barriers
He has given us a reason to believe in ourselves
A man with a dream and a vision like his forefathers
The walls have been broken down with hope
All creeds rejoice and sing a new tune
We all seek peace and love around the globe
One man defied huge odds
President Obama we welcome you
Together we shall stand by one another

1-20-09 Tuesday

Monday, January 19, 2009

A New and Genuine Patriotism

From Huffington Post ... after touting Obama as unpatriotic, seeing his election stirring the heart of the nation with lofty visions and high ideals - according to the right, this shouldn't be happening.

How wrong the right was!

Great piece ... click HERE.

Bush Is History, But ...

Sure, Bush is gone, or at least will be gone by tomorrow, at noon, but his rotten legacy will poison the land for years to come, and for years to come, we'll be cleaning up the mess and paying the bills.

For a painful review of the worst presidency in our history, check out one of our finest journalists: Keith Olbermann - click HERE.

As much as I'm eager to get on with the future, the crimes of the Bush Administration have to be brought to light - so that we can see how close we came to national suicide under the watch of fascists and see to it that it never happens again.

Thank God we are soon to close the book on the most tragic presidency ever, but to let it go without comment, without scrutiny, would only add to the enormity of the crimes committed.

Revenge? There can be none.

But let's ferret out the truth, let's shed the shadows that have hung over the land for so many years, so that we can rebuild our nation, from the inside out.

A huge task, more than Mr. Obama can accomplish in 8 years - but let's make a good start, and one of the starting places is telling the truth!

P.S. Martin Marty offers the following reflection on the kind of people we want to be - excellent piece: click HERE.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Farewell to a Lot of Bad Policy

For eight years, I watched Bush bumble his way through the world, making a mess of things, all the while talking tough, like a schoolyard bully, the Texas version.

I knew in my bones that it was all wrong, but it was hard to say so in the rush to judgment after 911 - Bush could hardly wait to flex his muscle and finish the war his daddy so wisely ended. He and his gang played the patriotism card so finely, there was no way to stand up and protest. The prosperous wealthy linked arms with Neo-Con values and drove the ship of state on to the rocks!

Now, tonight, we'll watch this sad little man try to put a positive spin on a failed presidency. I feel sorry for him. He got in way over his head and became the pawn of the Neo-Cons, evil women and men who are Fascist to the core.

Britain's out-going Foreign Minister, David Miliband, levels a withering critique at Bush's "war on terror" - branding the outgoing President's War on Terror a "misleading and mistaken" doctrine that had united extremists against the West.

I suspect most the world agrees.

How could Bush and Gang have been so mistaken?

What ideology drove them to ignore history, disregard the advice of allies, and commit American troops to folly, now costing nearly a trillion dollars (underwritten by China and Japan) and too many American soldiers, killed, wounded and maimed.

Bush has deconstructed environmental safeguards, financial regulation and the social safety-net, foolishly siding with the pro-lie camps on abortion, homosexuality, and creationism. A few more years, and we'd be back in the stone age.

I'll say it again: I feel sorry for the man, but he had his chances. He turned a deaf ear to the broad traditions of our nation - Bush was un-American, and the whole Neo-Con tribe behind him - guilty of subverting the American character.

Jail-time for them? To what end? Perhaps for a few who so egregiously violated the law with regard to torture and whatever lies were told to lead this nation into chaos.

But history will be their punishment!

P.S. Check out Jon Stewart's video.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

America's Greedy Sickness

Article about Yahoo's new CEO:

Shareholders are looking for Yahoo to rekindle talks with Microsoft Corp. or possibly sell off assets -- anything that earns them a quick return. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said as recently as last week that he’s still open to a partnership with Yahoo, something that may be first on investors’ agenda.

Does anyone here ask real questions?

Like viability? or long-term growth? or purpose? Quality?

Apparently not. Let's just gear up merger talks, drive up the stock price, so we can sell and make a killing.

Is this not the final disease? The unrelenting greed of hedge funds and brokers - Medoff or the poor guy who just recently faked his own death via a plane crash? Who's "pretty wife" is now suing him for divorce, who's multiple companies are being investigate for fraud, and so on and so forth.

Should Yahoo survive? I don't know, but the heart of this article is everything that's wrong with American industry and business right now.

Prosperity is not about bottom line or quick profits. Never has been, but Wall Street has gone crazy - a game played by 30-something ninnies who know little about the world in which they live, who can see no further than their own bottom line, who play with people's money like they played with their action-adventure figures.

I'd love to see Yahoo tell 'em to take a hike and jump into the lake (naw, that would be pollution of the worst kind).

American business is no longer about enterprise and productivity, thanks to Wall Street and its unregulated madness.

And Americans themselves aren't a whole lot better off emotionally.

It was all spend and consume, and now we've got to pay the piper.

Have we learned anything?

I doubt if the Wall Street big boys have ... as they beg for more money from Uncle Sam so they can continue to pad their coffers and live lavishly on the government dole.

I hope and pray that Obama and Team will have the vision and the courage to shut down this insanity - install a whole new process of tight regulation, to force this nation onto a fiscally responsible path - for government and business.

We can do it; and I don't think we have any choice.

The war in Iraq and elsewhere has all been underwritten by China and Japan buying government securities ... is this the way to do business?

We have spent ourselves silly, on all fronts. But it's time to take a deep breath, redistribute the wealth - the upper crust doesn't need to be so thick, and the lower echelons need a little more.

Ah well ... let's see if we can do it!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Detroit ... DE-troit city ...

I used to live there, 16-years worth ... have a good many friends there ... always said, "Our reputation is worse than the reality," but the nation seemingly has singled out Detroit, like a dysfunctional family settles on one of its own, to bear the burden of family shame and failure.


You bet, but here's a small piece of what Mitch Albom recently wrote ...

Enough. We're not gum on the bottom of America's shoe. We're not grime to be wiped off with a towel. Detroit and Michigan are part of the backbone of this country, the manufacturing spine, the heart of the middle class -- heck, we invented the middle class, we invented the idea that a factory worker can put in 40 hours a week and actually buy a house and send a kid to college. What? You have a problem with that? You think only lawyers and hedge-fund kings deserve to live decently?

Click HERE for the rest of this fine article?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


The effort to rewrite Bush's history is nothing less than silly.

I have no doubt that he's a decent man (some doubt about that), but he's been a pawn in the hands of the Neo-Cons.

I feel sorry for him; I really do.

And for his Dad. Hey, I'm a Dad, too. We love our sons, and we want the world to love them, too.

But Bush is the one of the worst, if not the worst, President we've ever had. He had no vision, no purpose. He stepped into the office without depth or purpose. History will have the last word, and the last word will not be kind.

So it goes ... only a few more days before Bush heads into retirement ... maybe he will write, some day, a book like McNamara - a book that says, "I'm sorry!"

I think Bush is a decent man (I hope!), but a man manipulated by the Neo-Cons.

I can't wait until he's sent on his way!

Monday, January 5, 2009

LA Mayor - It's Okay to Shoot Back!

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement earlier saying, "every country has a right to defend itself against attacks from a foreign enemy. Every nation is obligated to beat back forces dedicated to its destruction. And Israel cannot sit silently while innocent civilians are attacked. During this trying time in the Middle East, I hope all people -- regardless of race, religion or creed -- will join me in praying for peace, for an end to hostilities, and for a halt to violence on all sides."

Flawed thinking ... that violence will bring peace ... never has, never will. In one moment, justifying violence and then praying for peace. Sort of like pulling the trigger on your neighbor and then praying for your neighbor's health.

Only justice can bring peace. Peace is not an entity in and of itself; peace is a by-product, a result. If justice is missing, there can never be peace.

But only continuing violence - strike and strike back.

Villaraigosa's logic fits every situation, including that of the Palestinians who believe they have a right to strike Israel, because of Israel's oppressive policies. 

It's been noted that Israel decided to do this while war-mongering Bush remains in office - neither Bush nor his Neo-Con goons will ever figure this one out - the only language they speak is the language of power and domination - what they hope to do is defeat the real logic of life - those who live by the sword die by the sword.

Every empire, every dictator, every aggressive nation, has sought to defeat this logic, but the logic of the sword is built into the fabric of life - those who choose violence to promote peace on their own terms will never find it.

Israel has become a rogue nation with Uncle Sam's blessing ... and if anyone thinks Israel will succeed this time, then I've got a bridge to sell you.

As for our mayor, just words to placate a powerful lobby. After all, this isn't Detroit with a huge Arab population. Wonder what he'd say there. Too bad the truth dissolves in the acids of political expediency.


Huffington Post article by Marty Kaplan - excellent - the "cost" of victory.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


I am utterly distressed by Israel's incursion into Gaza.

Will this end it?
Will this military action bring peace to a region broken by injustice and cruelty?

The double talk is galling.
They describe themselves as peacemakers and restrained.

I'm sorry, that's just doublespeak ... the gobbledygook of politics ... language turned upside down to mask the lies and deceptions that have clouded the minds of Israel's leadership, the very same lies and deceptions spun by Bush and Gang vis-a-vis Iraq.

And though I am deeply sensitive to the history of the Jews and the founding of Israel, I cannot accept the Antisemitism Card endlessly played when there's even the hint of a question about the State of Israel and its ruthless policies.

It's imperative that we stop thinking about the State of Israel as an idea and begin seeing it for what it is - a nation-state, bent on its own security, using language to mask its self-promoting agenda.

And I'm watching CNN right now - how they love a war, and listening to some has-been general going on and on about taking ground and controlling it. Right ... this always works, doesn't it?

Israel is utterly wrong at this point ... and though Hamas has bloody hands as well, the burden of proof rests on those who hold and wield the power, and the Unites States, quietly cheering Israel on, to further destabilize the Middle East, to make it easier for us to maintain a presence there.

A peaceful Middle East would pose an enormous threat to us, even as a United Europe challenges us economically.

Having just seen the fine film, "Defiance," and knowing something of the tragic history of Antisemitism, I have always been sympathetic to the State of Israel. Though I believe its founding to have been a huge mistake driven the the collective guilt of the Western Allies after WW2, there's no turning back the clock. Israel exists as a state, and they need security and peace as any state does.

The Western Democracies have the power and the influence to stay the hand of war - to create a two-state resolution and to protect Israel for decades to come. But we lack the resolve, and as long as Israel is bent on eradication, with US support, and Hamas on harassment, it will only continue.